Kathmandu, March 8
After the fatal helicopter crash in Taplejung on February 27, the government has decided to limit the number of passengers that the Airbus-manufactured AS350 model helicopter can carry. The government has said the aforementioned model will be allowed to carry up to six people only.
An Air Dynasty AS350 helicopter had crashed on February 27 in which late Rabindra Adhikari, who at the time was the minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation, lost his life along with five other passengers and the pilot. Apparently, two officials of the country’s aviation regulatory body were also onboard the ill-fated helicopter.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and Helicopter Society of Nepal signed an agreement on Thursday to remove the seventh seat from all the helicopters of aforementioned model.
Rajan Pokharel, deputy general manager of CAAN, informed that most of the chopper service providers have removed the seventh seat. Previously, the AS350 model was being operated in a 6+1 seat format, which has now been changed to 5+1 seat format.
“Taking into account the difficult geographical terrain of Nepal, putting seven people onboard the AS350 model chopper is not suitable especially when the helicopter is flying to hilly and mountainous areas. So we decided to remove the seventh seat,” Pokharel said.
Moreover, CAAN has decided to temporarily ban landing at Gorakshya Helipad, which is located at the base camp of Mount Everest citing adverse climatic conditions and the high frequency of helicopter flights.
CAAN has also said that it will formulate guidelines related to helicopter services when VIPs are travelling in them by the end of this fiscal year.
A version of this article appears in print on March 09, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.